Virgin Australia has begun broadcasting movies, TV shows and music directly to passengers' own smartphones, tablets and laptops, with Qantas soon to follow.
Both airlines already offer WiFi 'streaming' of inflight entertainment to tablets handed out on board – Qantas uses iPads, while Virgin Australia settled on Samsung's Galaxy Tab series – but the new system makes the same programming available to almost any device a traveller may have in their carry-on bags.
Virgin is first off the mark for beaming to these BYO devices, with the airline spokeswoman confirming to Australian Business Traveller that "following a successful trial, we are now rolling it out across selected aircraft on our domestic and short-haul international fleet."
A Qantas spokeswoman told Australian Business Traveller that the airline is aiming to extend its Q Streaming platform to "iPads, iPhones and laptops" around the third quarter of this year.
Virgin WiFi streaming takes wing
It's estimated that more than a dozen of Virgin's Boeing 737-800 jets are alreadycwired, or rather unwired.
The airline intends to extend the system to the larger part of its domestic Boeing 737 and Embraer E190 fleet by year's end, and will next year appear on the Airbus A330s of Virgin's transcontinental Coast to Coast service.
"Obviously we're going to do the aircraft without IFE first" Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti has previously explained to Australian Business Traveller "and then the last aircraft to be done will be the 330s. Although they've got a very good (IFE) system in place, for product consistency we want to make sure they too have the WiFi."
Upgrading each aircraft with the necessary hardware, including a content server and a handful of wifi hotspots, is a relatively quick task, Borghetti says.
"When the aircraft's parked at night you do the work, and within two or three nights you've done an aeroplane. So effectively you can move very quickly and do the whole fleet... within 12 to 18 months."
The apps you need...
Up for grabs are some 300 hours of movies, television shows and music – as long as your favourite piece of travel tech is running the necessary software before you get on the plane.
For that reason, we suggest that all Virgin Australia travellers grab their gear and load up the apps ahead of their next flight.
Note that it's not enough just to install the app: you also have to activate it over an Internet connection before you can tune into the streaming WiFi signal on board.
The apps also include 'offboard' information about Virgin Australia, the airports and destinations it serves.
Want to tune in your larger-screen laptop? Windows and Apple notebooks must be running Microsoft's Silverlight software.
This may already be installed on your laptop: you can check using Virgin's Wireless In-Flight Entertainment System Check web page, which will also help you download the software with a single click of a big red button.